The first time she came in, Kara hardly noticed.
Kara was in the midst of training, and she still had no idea what she was doing. There were so many types of coffees and endless combinations with flavors and ice and espresso. Not to mention there were teas and hot chocolate and… It was dizzying just thinking about it all. She couldn’t understand how she was supposed to fit all of this in her head in just a few short days, and she was usually excellent at learning things.
Kara had been spending a lot of time at night in her apartment just reading about coffee, trying to work it all out, but it was still a lot to learn.
So when she walked in, Kara was mainly focusing on getting orders on the coffee cups without making the customer repeat themselves, and then being able to correctly prepare the drink while trying to understand what she wrote on the cup in her rush to get it all down.
“Good morning,” Kara greeted her as she approached the counter. Kara readied her sharpie, giving the woman a nervous smile. She had gotten the last two orders correct, but they had been easy. The real test, her trainer had warned her, were the people who came in with an order the size of a paragraph. Kara worried about encountering those people.
This woman was one of those people.
“Morning,” she said, not paying much attention at all to Kara, instead looking down at her phone where she seemed to be answering an email. “Could I get a large butterscotch macchiato, skim milk, extra hot, with a double ristretto, and no whipped cream?”
Kara froze. She hadn’t even known until halfway through the order if it was a hot or iced drink, so she had completely missed writing down any of it. She picked up a large hot cup. She wished her trainer wasn’t helping someone else at the moment. “Could you please repeat that?”
The woman looked up from her email, seeing a completely thrown Kara. She sighed, and repeated the order, this time a little slower.
“A ris- what?” Kara asked, having gotten most of it down until the end. The ristretto wasn’t something she was familiar with.
There were also a million types of coffees, so there were bound to be a few that she didn’t know.
Lena gave her a half smile. “A ristretto. It’s like espresso, but different.” With the mention of espresso, Kara faintly remembered reading about it. At the time, she’d thought it was just a fancy name for espresso, as it was under the espresso section in her book. She realized then that she needed to go back and reread that section.
Kara nodded, hoping there was button on the espresso machine that indicated ristretto. “The symbol is an ‘R’, right?”
Lena stared blankly at her for a moment, possibly contemplating if she should say anything else. “Yes.”
“Sorry,” Kara said with an apologetic smile. “I’m still in training and there’s so many things to learn, you know? And you said no whip, right?”
Lena nodded in understanding. “That’s right.”
“Okay,” Kara started, scribbling a quick smiley face on the cup. She had been trying, with every customer’s cup, to draw a picture on it. That way if she messed up, at least they had a cute picture and they wouldn’t be as mad. At least it’d worked so far. “I’m gonna make your drink. Amy will check you out down at the register, and then you’ll come back to me for the drink.”
The hint of a smile appeared on her face. “Good luck.”
The woman started down towards the register, but Kara stopped her, realizing she’d forgotten something important. “Wait!”
She turned around, the smile growing. Kara could tell that she knew exactly what she’d forgotten. “Yes?”
“I need your name,” Kara replied, sharpie poised to write it on the cup.
Kara grinned at her, and then rushed off to start the coffee, almost tripping over a bag of grounds in the process. She heard Lena laugh.
She wasn’t exactly sure what came first, the macchiato or the ristretto (hell, she still wasn’t even sure what a ristretto was), but she tried her best, recalling advice from her trainer. The end result didn’t look as pretty as she was sure some of her coworkers could do, but she was confident that she didn’t entirely screw up.
Kara handed Lena the coffee, noticing the smirk that she was wearing. She was highly aware of the difficulties Kara had had while making the coffee.
She nervously pushed her glasses up on her face, giving Lena a smile that she hoped conveyed how sorry she was if she’d done anything wrong. “Have a great day!”
“You as well, Kara.” And with that, Lena was walking out, and Kara was rushing to take the next order.
She was confused for the next two drinks as to how Lena knew her name, only upon realizing, after mentioning it to her trainer, that she was wearing a name tag.
Two days after assessment, Lena returned.
Kara was feeling much calmer after passing. She knew her coffee, and could tell the difference between every kind. She didn’t get stressed about the busy atmosphere, or the insanely long orders anymore. She still drew pictures on coffee cups though.
“Hello!” Kara chirped upon seeing Lena enter.
Lena looked up from her phone as she walked up to the counter, putting it in her purse and flashing Kara a smile. “Hello.”
“What kind of drink can I get for you today?”
Lena’s smile grew. “Are you ready for it this time?”
Kara looked at her in confusion, a crinkle appearing between her brows. “I’m sorry?”
“Never mind,”Lena waved it off, the smile lessening. “Could I get a large butterscotch macchiato, skim milk, extra hot, with a double ristretto, and no whipped cream?”
Kara quickly pulled a cup out in the midst of Lena’s instructions, and immediately started writing on it. “And can I get your name?”
Kara hummed in acknowledgement, capping her sharpie after drawing a smiley face on the cup, and placing the sharpie behind her ear. Lena went off to pay for her drink.
“You know this actually sounds really good,” Kara commented when Lena came back. She was leaning back against the counter, waiting on the ristretto to come out before she could finish making the drink. “The ristretto is a really nice touch in the place of just adding more espresso to the macchiato. Gets rid of a lot of the bitterness, but doesn’t compromise on the caffeine.” The ristretto finished, and Kara went to start making the drink.
“I’m glad you know what ristretto is now,” Lena replied, and Kara backed up to the counter so she could face Lena.
“I’ve served you before,” Kara stated, pointing a finger at her, not questioning it. She could see the smile on Lena’s face at the realization.
“That’s what you meant by that comment before,” Kara said, putting the pieces together. With the mystery solved, she went back to fixing the coffee. “It all makes sense now.”
“It was during training, I believe you said. I’m sure you had a lot of other things on your mind.”
Kara gasped, finally remembering. “You’re the girl who taught me what ristretto is! I remember you!”
“And now look at you, talking about ristretto like a true coffee connoisseur,” Lena replied. “I can only hope the rest of your barista skills have improved as well.”
Kara placed Lena’s coffee on the counter, tilting her head slightly in confusion at Lena’s comment. “Are you saying that the coffee wasn’t good?”
Lena picked up her coffee, smirking at Kara. “I’m sure you’ve improved at least slightly. The fact that you know the difference between ristretto and espresso is a good sign, considering how bitter my coffee was last time.” After glancing at the smiley face drawn on the cup, she took a sip of her coffee. “Better, at least.”
Kara frowned. “That’s it?”
“It’ll do for today. Until next time, Kara.”
And Lena was gone, leaving Kara to ponder over where exactly she’d gone wrong.
The next time Lena showed up, Kara remembered. And she was prepared.
“Good morning, Lena,” Kara greeted her.
This caused Lena to smirk. “Remembered my name? You’re already off to such a good start.”
Kara pulled the sharpie out from behind her ear, then grabbing a large hot cup, ready.
“I can see you remember a few other things,” Lena noted, her voice indicating a tone of surprise. “But will you be able to make it right?”
Kara nodded, smiling. “Hit me with your best shot.”
Lena repeated her order, and Kara was off the moment Lena finished, starting the ristretto, causing Lena to give a small laugh.
While waiting for the ristretto, Kara leaned against the counter and began her drawing on the cup. Lena wasn’t going to get the standard smiley face this time. Instead, Kara drew a stick figure version of herself holding a coffee. She wrote her name to the left of it, drawing an arrow to the figure so as not to confuse Lena. Then she included a speech bubble with the words, ‘I hope it’s right!’ She finished with a dramatic flourish of her sharpie, and started off work on the coffee.
“You spent quite a lot of time drawing today,” Lena stated, causing Kara to freeze and look back at her. She hadn’t realized Lena was back from paying, and had been watching her. “Hope you’re not trying to compensate for something.”
“Your coffee will be perfect,” Kara insisted, going back to work, ignoring Lena’s smirk.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Lena teased her, laughing as she saw the crinkle appear between Kara’s eyes, a sign of her concentration and frustration.
“Do you aim to frustrate all your baristas, or is it just me?” Kara asked, not looking up from where she was adding butterscotch syrup to the drink.
“Don’t think yourself special, Kara. I bother all the baristas who can’t get my order right.” Kara huffed, brining about another small laugh from Lena.
“Here’s your coffee.” Kara placed a cup on the counter in front of Lena after a minute of silent working.
Lena picked it up, and smiled at the picture Kara had drawn. “Cute.” Then she took a sip. Kara waited, anxious to hear the result. Lena took her time, contemplating her opinion, knowing that Kara was hanging on her every word.
Finally, she spoke. “Not quite perfect, but definitely improving.”
“What?” Kara questioned, shock registering on her face. “What’s wrong with it?”
Lena gave her a final smile before turning to walk away. “Figure it out.”
After a week of experimenting in coffee, Kara watched Lena walk back in.
She was more than ready for Lena this time. She’d gone through cup after cup of coffee during her downtime, trying different portions of syrup, of milk, of espresso, of ristretto. She’d gone through different temperatures, seeing if they created a difference. Her coworkers all thought she was a bit insane for her dedication to this task, but she didn’t care.
The only time she did care was when she got a little jittery from too much caffeine and it made her make careless mistakes at work. But it was fine. She handled it.
“The usual?” Kara asked as soon as Lena approached the counter, not even bothering to pull out her sharpie. By this point, she knew this order by heart.
Lena gave her a teasing smile. “And a good morning to you, Kara.”
“Sorry I… good morning, Lena,” Kara stumbled out, being completely thrown off. She had been ready, prepared to start. She hadn’t prepared for pleasantries.
“I’m going to have my usual order, yes. If you think you’re up to it.”
Kara nodded once, before pushing her glasses up on her nose and setting off with a completely blank cup.
“Someone’s a bit full of themselves today,” Lena commented when she returned from paying. “Are you sure you know my entire order?”
Kara, who was still leaned back against the counter and drawing on the cup, glanced up at Lena, giving her a grin before quickly returning her attention to the cup. “I’m definitely aware of your order.”
Kara finished her drawing, capping the sharpie and placing it behind her ear once again. She kicked off from against the counter to begin her work on the coffee. “I may have made your order a few times, trying to figure out what makes it perfect to you.”
“Hm,” Lena hummed, Kara able to hear the amusement in her voice without even seeing Lena’s facial expression. “And did you discover the secret?”
Kara poked her head around the corner to shoot Lena a quick smile. “You bet I did.”
Lena laughed, and Kara’s stomach did a flip. She shouldn’t have been affected by her laugh. Kara had heard it a few times before.
But it had happened, and Kara couldn’t let herself think about it. Or how attractive Lena was. Or why she desperately wanted to please Lena. Or how much she looked forward to Lena walking through the door each week.
So instead she focused on the coffee, the coffee that she had spent all week and all of her free coffees on perfecting.
“I hope, for your sake then, that it’s perfect.”
“It will be.” Kara promised. “You know, it may just be the caffeine talking, but I feel like the coffee a person orders says a lot about themselves.”
“That’s deep, for a barista,” Lena commented. “You must really have some free time here if you’re thinking about that.”
Kara scowled at her, handing Lena her coffee. “So I guess you don’t want to know what yours says about you?”
“Oh I already know it says I’m a pretentious bitch with a perfection complex, no need to tell me that, Kara. What I’d like to know,” she started. “Is why a dinosaur?”
Lena gestured to her cup, and the drawing on it. For that day’s cup, Kara had decided to draw a cartoon dinosaur holding a cup of coffee. The dinosaur had a speech bubble as well, which read ‘I like Kara’s coffee!’
“Oh,” Kara shrugged. “I just like dinosaurs. They’re fun to draw.”
Lena nodded, and then her tone softened, all hints of teasing gone. “I really would like to know what my coffee says about me, Kara.”
Kara gave a small smile. “You’re sweet, but not too sweet. There’s also power behind your sweetness, in addition to a hint of acidity. You have a good base structure as well, which is important. And…” Kara stopped herself. She had almost made a comment about how both Lena and her coffee are extra hot. Which wasn’t exactly something Kara should say to a customer, even if she was extra hot.
She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. It’s silly anyways. Try your coffee. Tell me how perfect it is.”
“You know, it is quite good,” Lena commented after taking a sip of her coffee. “I think your work paid off.”
Kara was grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day.
One week later, Lena threw Kara for a complete loop.
She walked in, and Kara automatically started smiling as she pulled a large hot cup from the stack and began writing Lena’s order on it.
Lena approached the counter, a smirk forming on her face. “Kara, I hope that’s not my coffee.”
Kara froze, and looked up at Lena in confusion. “It is?”
“Well I was actually going to order something different today, if you don’t mind.”
Kara dropped the cup in shock. She hadn’t been prepared for this. Nothing could’ve prepared her for Lena, after weeks of the same coffee order, changing it out of the blue.
The caused Lena to giggle. “Good morning.”
“It was,” Kara muttered just loud enough for Lena to hear, causing her to giggle even more. “Good morning, Lena. What can I get for you today?”
“Large iced mocha latte, skim milk.”
Kara, who had been able to write all that down, glanced up at Lena, waiting for more. “That’s it?”
Lena gave her a smile. “That’s it, Kara. Hope you can handle it.”
Kara rolled her eyes, starting her drawing on the cup. “Any reason behind this sudden change?”
“I’m trying to keep you on your toes,” she commented. She started to walk over to the register to pay, but stopped after two steps, turning back to Kara. “Plus you were getting too good at my coffee. We can’t have perfection happening.”
Kara shook her head, hiding the grin that was trying to make its way onto her face. She loved when Lena came in to the coffeeshop. Lena made her days infinitely better, just in the small interactions they had.
She finished her drawing, and started on the coffee. The drawing for this cup was a rocket ship, with the phrase ‘Exploring new horizons’ written underneath it. It was in reference to Lena’s new coffee choice, and Kara was quite pleased with how it turned out. She only hoped Lena would like it. Part of the reason she tried so hard on these drawings was because she loved seeing Lena’s reactions to them.
The drink was a lot simpler and less time-consuming that Lena’s normal order. By the time Lena returned from paying, Kara had finished.
“You do realize we’re in the middle of winter and you ordered an iced drink, right?” Kara asked upon presenting Lena the drink.
“Having just come from outside, I would say I’m aware.”
“Are you also aware that you basically just ordered chocolate milk with a shot of espresso?”
“And what does that coffee say about me?” Lena asked, teasing her. “That I’m still a child but would like a little dose of caffeine?”
Kara grinned, shrugging her shoulders. “Basically, yeah.”
Lena looked down at her coffee, examining the picture, running her thumb over it. “This is really cute. Very apt, considering how cute the artist is.”
“Wh-what? Me?” Kara felt herself blushing as she fumbled with her words.
Lena smiled. “You heard me.” She then took a sip from her coffee, and made a grimace. “God, it is chocolate milk.”
“Why’d you get it then?”
“This girl I’m talking to, she raves about this coffee. I thought I’d try it out. Now I regret it.”
Kara did her best to keep from reacting at the mention of Lena talking to a girl. A part of her was happy, because it meant that Lena liked girls and Kara had a bit more of a chance than before. Then there was the bigger part, the part that was sad because Lena was talking to someone else.
“I could make your regular coffee, if you want,” Kara suggested, but Lena just shook her head.
“I’ll endure. Maybe it’ll give me some keen insight on whether I want to pursue her any further. As of right now, her coffee tastes are severely lacking,” Lena replied. “But thank you for the offer, Kara.”
Kara smiled, allowing her hopes to go up in the slightest. “Anytime.”
Kara was having coffee the next time Lena came in. She usually had at least two coffees throughout the day, sometimes more, depending on how her day was going. So honestly, it was actually a surprise that Lena hadn’t found her drinking coffee before.
Kara set her coffee down on the counter upon seeing Lena approaching her. “Good morning, Lena.”
“Good morning, Kara,” Lena greeted her, a small smile on her face. “Not starting my coffee upon arrival this time?”
Kara shook her head, grinning. “I’ve learned my lesson.”
“Not to mention it means you get to spend a little more time with me.”
Kara felt a blush start to develop on her face, but she was doing her best to play it cool. “I do like spending time with you.” And her cool was gone the moment she opened her mouth.
Lena’s smile grew, and Kara felt herself growing attached to how Lena’s eyes looked when she smiled.
Lena pointed to Kara’s drink, still visible on the counter, a silly drawing facing out to Lena. “What are you drinking?”
Kara glanced down at the coffee, and then back up at Lena. “Coffee.”
Lena rolled her eyes at this, causing Kara to laugh. “I would hope so, considering your job.”
She smiled, taking a sip of coffee. “If I tell you, you’ll be able to judge what my coffee says about me.”
Lena hummed, thinking. “How about I just order it?”
Kara is quick to respond. “You wouldn’t like it.”
“Kara, I drank glorified chocolate milk last week. It can’t get any worse than that.”
She sighed. “Alright. You’ve been warned. Tell the cashier you’re getting a large iced coffee.”
Lena raised an eyebrow, remembering the iced conversation from the previous week. “Iced? In the middle of winter?”
“It gets really hot in here, okay?” Kara defended herself, causing Lena to give a small laugh.
“Sure Kara,” she teased. “But you’re not allowed to comment next time I get an iced drink.”
“No promises,” Kara replied, starting her drawing on the cup.
The picture that day was a given, considering what drink Lena was getting. At the top, she wrote ‘The Kara’ in big letters. Then she drew a piece of candy, a spice container, and a smiley face. Underneath she wrote ‘made of sugar, spice, and everything nice.’
As soon as she finished, and began the coffee. She considered holding back, of trying to cater to Lena’s taste, but thought better of it.
“Are you going to tell me what’s in it?” Lena asked upon returning from paying. “What if I’m allergic to something?”
Kara stopped, looking around the counter at Lena. “Are you allergic to anything?”
Within a half minute, Kara was back with the drink.
“Someone must have a simple drink if you’re already done,” Lena stated, trying to get a rise out of Kara.
“Better than having an overly complex drink.” Kara handed over the coffee.
Lena giggled upon seeing the drawing. “You’re cute.” Which caused Kara to look down and absentmindedly push her glasses up, a grin on her face and a blush returning to her cheeks. Kara had lost her cool the second Lena walked through the door, and there was no recovering it.
Lena took a sip of the coffee, and then laughed. “Is there any coffee in this at all?”
Kara huffed. “Yes. There’s just also a lot of sugar.”
“I never would’ve guessed. What’s it made of?” This time, Kara told her.
“Iced coffee with a few pumps of caramel, toffee, and a little white mocha.”
Lena’s eyes widened. “That is… quite a bit of sugar.”
Kara shrugged. “What can I say, it’s what I like. Load me up with sugar and caffeine and I’m a happy Kara.”
Lena took another sip. “Despite the resounding sweetness, it is very good. The flavors blend well. Not what I’d order every day, because it’s enough sugar to cause a cavity upon sight, but still good.”
“It’s not chocolate milk.”
“It’s not,” Lena agreed.
“So what do you think it says about me? Because I know you have an opinion.” Kara had a feeling she wasn’t going to get a straight answer, and Lena proved her right.
“I’m sure you already know, Kara,” Lena replied, turning to head for the door. “You’re the coffee expert, after all.”
Kara sighed in frustration as she watched Lena walk out, wishing she could follow along and get Lena to actually give her an answer.
She actually didn’t expect to see Lena on the next day that she came in.
It was Valentines Day, and Kara just assumed that Lena would be busy. So imagine her surprise when Lena walked in like it was any other day.
“Lena,” Kara said, a grin forming. “Hey. Happy Valentines Day.”
“And the same to you, Kara.”
“Getting your usual today?” Kara pulled out the new pink sharpie that she had gotten exclusively for this day.
Lena shook her head. “Actually I was thinking I’d try the Valentines Day special.” She gestured to the small chalkboard sign on the counter that Kara had drawn last night.
Kara looked at her in confusion. “But it’s been so long since you’ve gotten your order.”
Lena smiled at this. “You’re just scared you’ll forget it.”
“That’s not possible,” Kara promised.
“So what’s the special?”
“It’s just a cinnamon dolce latte with white mocha added. It’s not really all that special.”
“You’re really selling your product there, Kara,” Lena teased.
“I’ll have you know I’m one of the top baristas here, despite not constantly promoting our drinks,” Kara replied, causing Lena to roll her eyes.
“Well, if you’re ever looking for a job in marketing,” Lena threw out casually.
“Is that what you do? Marketing?” Kara asked, jumping on any information she could get about her. She still knew next to nothing about Lena.
“Not exactly,” she replied with a smirk. Before Kara could ask anymore, Lena was walking away to go pay for her coffee.
Kara sighed, continuing her drawing. Due to the holiday, she was trying to draw as many hearts on the cup as possible. There was the slightest bit of hope that Lena would realize from all the hearts that Kara may have developed a small crush on her.
Once satisfied that there were enough, she began work on the coffee.
“Any plans for tonight?” Lena questioned upon returning.
“If by plans you mean being here and working, then yes,” Kara replied. “Despite the fact that absolutely no one goes on a coffee date at night on Valentines Day.”
“That’s truly unfortunate. I’m sorry, Kara.”
Kara shrugged, despite knowing that Lena couldn’t see her. “It’s not like I have anyone special anyway. But how about you? What are your plans?”
“I’m actually going on a first date with someone,” Lena admitted, causing Kara to almost drop her coffee. She had expected Lena to dodge the question like she did with every personal question Kara asked her.
She set the coffee on the counter. “A first date on Valentines Day? Isn’t that a little…?”
“I was going to say cliche, but whatever floats your boat,” Kara said, bringing about a small laugh.
“I’ll admit it isn’t an ideal date, but we’ve both decided to just ignore the holiday and act as if it’s a normal date. Whether that happens, we’ll see.” Lena picked up her coffee, smiling at all the hearts drawn on it. “New sharpie?”
“Got it just for today,” Kara stated, her hand going immediately to the pink sharpie behind her ear. “Spreading a little Valentines cheer.”
“I’d say you’re off to a great start, “Lena replied, taking a sip of coffee, and Kara beamed. “This is pretty good, actually.”
“You say that as if every coffee I’ve made you has been anything short of amazing.”
Lena smirked. “Don’t forget the first coffee you made me, Kara. I know I never will.”
Kara sighed, shaking her head and trying to hide her grin. “You always have to bring that up, don’t you?”
“You always have an utterly adorable reaction each time I do, so yes.” Lena gave her one last smile before she turned to walk out.
“Good luck on your date!” Kara called after her, causing Lena to turn around and wave at her.
“Happy Valentines Day, Kara.”
Kara was drinking coffee just to stay awake when Lena walked through the door. It was less than hour until closing time, and, having not seen a customer in over an hour, Kara was counting down the minutes until she could close and go home. Everyone else had left, and she was bored out of her mind.
The bell chimed, alerting her to the arrival of someone, and she looked up hopefully. Upon seeing it was Lena, she became confused. Lena was supposed to be on a date. Lena only got coffee once a week, and never at night. This was not something she expected.
“Lena?” Kara questioned. “What are you doing here?”
“Is that any way to greet a paying customer? One who, might I add, is visiting for the second time today.”
“I appreciate your dedication to our coffeeshop,” Kara stated, the confusion still evident in her voice. “But you’re normally a once a week, early in the morning, kind of customer.“
“Can’t a girl surprise you every once in a while?” Lena asked, smiling at her. “How’s your night been?”
“About like this,” Kara replied, gesturing around her at the emptiness.
“So you’ve had many attractive girls come in after their failed dates just to get a drink from you?”
“I think most of those girls would be at the bar, not here,” Kara reminded her. “But it didn’t go well?”
Lena shrugged. “There wasn’t really a connection. Not to mention the pressure of Valentines Day was a little too much to ignore.”
Kara frowned, seeing the tinge of sadness that accompanied Lena. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright. It’s how most dates go, to be quite honest. I shouldn’t blame the holiday,” she paused, shaking her head before forcing herself to smile again. “I’m sorry, this isn’t what you want to hear. You just want to know what I want to drink.”
“I mean, I would like to know that since you’re unpredictable these days and I can’t just make you coffee,” Kara stated. “But if you want to talk about other things, I’m all ears.”
Lena nodded, taking in the offer. “Can I get green tea?”
Kara tilted her head, looking at Lena in complete confusion. “Tea?”
“You can’t think I’d drink coffee this late, can you?” Kara slowly picked up her coffee cup from the counter, placing it out of view from Lena, causing her to laugh. “Obviously you don’t have a problem with caffeine keeping you awake at night.”
“I need it to get through this shift. We’ll worry about sleeping when we get there,” Kara explained. “So green tea?” Lena nodded, and Kara pulled down the pink sharpie, starting to write on a cup. After finishing, she gestured down toward the register, walking that way. “I’ll ring you up tonight.”
“Look at you, doing everything. You’ve come a long ways from wondering what ristretto is,” Lena commented, watching Kara start tapping on the iPad serving as the register.
Kara glanced up at her, a hint of amusement mingling with fake annoyance in her voice. “Two times? In one day? Is that really necessary?”
“Probably not,” Lena replied. “And yet I will probably continue.”
Kara rolled her eyes, accepting Lena’s credit card as she handed it over. After swiping it, she handed it back. She turned the iPad around to let Lena finish the transaction.
“Did you want to sit? And talk?” Kara asked hesitantly after Lena had finished. “I mean I’m sure you’re busy or want to get home after a long day or-”
Lena cut her off. “Kara, I want to.”
Kara grinned. “Okay. Let me just get your tea.”
“Does tea get a drawing as well, or is it just coffee?” Lena asked, following as Kara moved back towards her normal area.
Kara glanced up at her from the cup that she had started working on with her pink sharpie. “Maybe.”
“I suppose I’ll find out either way,” Lena said in amusement. “I’ll be waiting on you over here.” She gestured to a booth before walking toward it. Before sitting down, she took off her coat, revealing a very tight, very attractive red dress.
“You know I’m a barista not a-” Kara’s froze when she came around from the counter and saw Lena. Her mouth went dry, and her mind went blank. Lena smirked at her, knowing exactly what was happening. After a moment, Kara was able to regain her train of thought. “Not a waitress.”
“You could’ve fooled me,” Lena commented as Kara sat down across from her, placing both Lena’s tea and Kara’s own coffee on the table.
“You look amazing,” Kara breathed out, still not completely recovered from the shock of Lena in the red dress. “Whoever your date was, she really lost out.”
“Someone’s aiming for a larger tip.” Although Lena dismissed Kara’s compliment, Kara could still see the small smile that it brought about.
“But you do you look-” Kara cut herself off, in awe of Lena.
“What are you drinking, Kara? It’s not iced, so it’s not yours,” Lena noted, looking down at Kara’s drink.
“You haven’t even tried your tea yet,” Kara stated, trying to draw the attention away from Lena’s question. “How will I know it’s not perfect until you try it?”
Lena smiled before looking down at Kara’s ‘drawing’ this time, causing her to laugh. “This isn’t even a drawing, Kara!”
“But,” Kara pointed out. “It made you laugh, which was the purpose.”
On the cup, Kara had written, ‘I was going to draw a koala to make the koala tea pun, but I can’t draw a koala.’
“That it did,” Lena admitted, taking a sip of her tea. She sat in contemplation for a minute before speaking. “Decent tea. Can I know what you’re drinking now?”
Kara sighed in defeat. “Fine. If you must know, I’m drinking your regular order.”
The smirk returned to Lena’s face. “Oh?”
Kara was quick to explain. “But only because it has a large caffeine amount and I needed something to keep me awake on this super slow night at work!”
“Sweet-tooth Kara likes my drink, despite it not being nearly as sugar-filled as her own,” Lena mused, teasing Kara.
“And this is exactly why I didn’t want to tell you.”
“Now I need to know where you work so I can come in and tease you about every little thing like you do with me,” Kara stated, only half-joking. She really wanted to know something about Lena.
Lena took a moment to drink some of her tea. “You’d probably find that a little difficult. The door guard doesn’t let just anyone in.”
“Psh,” Kara brushed this off. “I can bribe a door guard with coffee.”
“Well, even so, if you get past him then there’s the lobby receptionist, and then there’s my secretary once you reach my floor. That’s a lot of coffee,” Lena explained, and Kara had a feeling that Lena was still avoiding the question.
“It sounds like you’re very high profile if you have all these people to bribe,” Kara commented, doing her best to pull a straight answer out of Lena.
“It’s possible, yes,” Lena said, her smile growing as Kara grew more and more frustrated.
Kara couldn’t take it anymore. “But really, Lena. Where do you work?”
Lena looked confused. “Wait. Do you really not know?”
“No? Have you already mentioned it before? Or should I be able to guess from the information you’ve given me?”
“No.” Lena’s smile was back as she shook her head. “It’s just… I’m the CEO of L-Corp. I’m a Luthor. Most people know who I am.”
“Huh.” Kara had heard of Lena Luthor and L-Corp before because she didn’t live completely under a rock, but she’d never actually seen her. Except apparently she had seen Lena Luthor once a week now for several weeks. “I honestly didn’t know that.”
“Would you have treated me differently had you known from the start?” Lena questioned, worry creeping its way into her voice.
Kara let herself process for a moment, going back over all their past interactions. “No, I don’t think so. You’re just Lena to me. Lena with the long coffee order and the need to always pick on me.”
Lena sighed, relief washing over her face. “Kara, you don’t know how refreshing that is to hear. I-”
Before Lena could continue, the door chimed, alerting them to the presence of another customer.
“Welcome! I’ll be right with you!” Kara called out, waving to the man who was making his way up to the counter. Then she turned back to Lena apologetically. “Sorry. I need to take care of him.”
Lena dismissed this with the wave of her hand, not the slightest bit upset. “Oh of course. I need to get going anyways. I have a web conference very early in the morning.” She stood up, putting her coat back on.
“I’ll see you soon?” Kara asked, hopeful.
“Where else would I get perfect coffee from a cute barista?”
Kara had been eagerly waiting for Lena to return to get coffee. Time seemed to move slower ever since Lena’s last visit, and it was quickly driving Kara crazy. Every time someone opened the door, Kara would whip her head around, no matter what she was doing, to see who it was. This had caused more than one near-disaster involving very hot coffee.
She knew she should be paying better attention to her work, but her thoughts were all drawn to Lena. Lena, who had finally somewhat opened up to her. Lena, who had decided to come see her, of all people, after a failed date.
Lena, who Kara had been able to google and read a long wikipedia article about.
So of course, when Lena decided to return, Kara was actually semi-busy.
“Hey Lena,” Kara called out upon seeing Lena walk in. She saw Lena smile at the greeting before Kara rushed to go back to fixing a vanilla latte.
“It’s quite busy today, isn’t it?” Lena commented when she saw Kara again, waiting until Kara had finished taking someone’s order.
“I have no idea why,” Kara stated, walking off with another coffee order to make. “The morning rush doesn’t normally start for another half hour.”
Kara came back with an iced coffee, and set it on the counter for the previous customer, finally able to pay attention to Lena. “How are you?”
“I’m okay. Probably not as busy as you at the moment.”
Kara gave an exhausted laugh, running a hand through her hair. “I’ve always been lucky in a way that you never come in and see me during a rush. Things get crazy.”
“Then I won’t keep you long. Even though it is quite attractive to see you as flustered as you are,” Lena said, trying to get a reaction from her. Kara looked down, grinning at the counter. “Can I just get my regular drink?”
Kara nodded, and was off with a cup, not even needing to write it down. She quickly started the ristretto, needing the extra time to draw on the cup. She drew a quick sketch of a cup of coffee, giving it a smiling face. She then included a speech bubble that said ‘I’m the perfect cup of coffee!’
By the time she finished her drawing, the ristretto was ready, and she could begin work on the rest of it.
“So you remember how to make it perfectly?” Lena asked, coming back from the register.
Kara scoffed. “Of course, Lena.”
“I hope so,” Lena replied, teasing her. “Don’t want to lose your position as my favorite barista.”
When Kara came around with Lena’s coffee, she was grinning. “Favorite?”
“Also only. But details.” Lena took the coffee from Kara, taking a sip.
“How is it?” Kara questioned after she finished writing the next order on a cup.
“Perfect, just like it’s been since the second time you served it to me.”
Kara, who had gone off in a rush to start making another iced coffee, backed up to look at Lena. “What?”
“I said it’s perfect.” The smirk returned. Lena knew what Kara had become fixated on.
“All those times I made you coffee and you claimed it wasn’t exactly right… when it really was?” Kara looked thoroughly shocked, but she couldn’t stand there. She set off to continue making the next customer’s coffee.
“I had to make sure you remembered me somehow,” Lena replied in complete amusement. “Plus you’re entirely too cute when you’re trying to figure out what you’ve done wrong.”
“Lena, I spent weeks on that coffee!” Kara whined, causing Lena to give a quiet laugh.
“Would you have remembered me otherwise?” Lena asked as Kara came back to place the coffee on the counter and fulfill the next order.
Their conversation paused a moment as Kara took an order. Then, Kara answered, taking a deep breath and looking right into Lena’s eyes. “Of course I would’ve remembered you. You’re the most attractive person I serve all day.” Then she was off again to make a chai latte.
When she came back, Lena was gone.
In a rare occurrence that Kara couldn’t have predicted, Lena showed up the very next day.
She came in a little earlier than her usual time frame, possibly to escape the chance that there would be a rush, and as such she found the place practically deserted.
Kara, who was busy making a pot of coffee, didn’t notice that Lena had come in until she turned around to find Lena at the counter. Kara jumped, almost spilling the bag of coffee beans that she was holding. She quickly recovered, causing Lena to let out a small laugh.
“Graceful as ever,” Lena noted.
Kara placed the bag back on its shelf under the counter. “You’re here early. And also on a Friday.”
“Yes, thank you for stating the obvious,” Lena replied, smirking at her.
“Someone needs a little sweetness in their morning coffee,” Kara commented, attempting to keep up with this flirting game that Lena always seemed to be winning. “I miss the Lena that constantly called me cute. This one has some bite.”
“Well I suppose it’s a good thing I wanted to order The Kara today then,” Lena stated, causing Kara to gape at her for a second, at a complete loss for words.
“I- you- …what?”
“The coffee, Kara. Your coffee order.” Kara nodded in understanding, and pulled out a large iced cup and began writing on it. “Though, I wouldn’t mind the person either,” Lena added as an afterthought, making Kara fumble with the cup before ultimately dropping it.
Kara looked down at the cup, and then slowly back up at Lena, who was grinning. She picked it up, and threw it into the trash before grabbing another. “I’m gonna start that over.”
“I’d appreciate that.”
Kara finished writing on the cup, and then moved on to the drawing while Lena went to pay.
She took a deep breath, and decided it was time. It was time they stopped flirting and never doing anything about it. It was time Kara stopped living only for the one time a week that Lena would walk in. So instead of a picture, she wrote ‘Since you wanted both Karas, how about a date?’ and beneath it she wrote her number with a heart beside it.
She capped her sharpie, placing it back behind her ear and went off to make the drink. There was no turning back.
“I can already feel the oncoming sugar rush,” Lena commented when she came back. “Is that normal?”
“I’d get that checked out,” Kara shot back. “Though it could be something else causing that rush.”
“Oh?” Kara could hear the amusement in Lena’s voice. “And what would your guess on the matter be?”
“Only you would be able to tell me that,” Kara replied in her best Lena impression, reappearing at the counter with Lena’s coffee.
Lena laughed, clearly getting the reference. “You’re something else.”
Kara handed over the coffee. “I try my best. At least when I’m around you.”
Lena smiled, a true, genuine smile. Then she noticed the drawing of the day on her coffee. She looked at Kara in amusement. “This isn’t a drawing.”
Kara, doing her best to hold onto an air of confidence, replied, “No, it’s not.”
Lena nodded. “I think I’m okay with that.”
Later that day, Kara received a text from an unknown number with the message, “As long as it’s not for coffee.”
Kara grinned, recalling what she’d written on Lena’s coffee cup.